The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Sunday, January 16, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, January 16, 2011

Reported Security Incidents


Roadside bomb attack on a bus carrying municipal workers injures 7. In a separate attack, 3 bodyguards of the Science and Technology Minister are injured. He was not present.

Bomb attack near the headquarters of the Badr organization in Kalamiya kills one of the guards, injures 4 people including a civilian. (You may recall that the Badr organization was the militia, now supposedly disarmed, of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, now called the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, the largest Shiite political bloc. Most of its fighters have been integrated into the government security forces.)

Other News of the Day

Since there were conflicting accounts about the incident yesterday in which two U.S. soldiers were killed, here is the latest account from AP. The U.S. military says a Sunni Iraqi soldier smuggled live ammunition into a training exercise, and shot 3 U.S. soldiers, two of whom died. The attacker was immediately killed by U.S. troops. Note the implication that Iraqi soldiers are not allowed to have live ammunition on U.S. bases.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Dawood Oglu is in Baghdad for high level talks.

IRIN discusses "enforced disappearances" in Iraq -- meaning that the government grabs people and holds them in secret, and maybe tortures or kills them. Somewhere from 250,000 to a million Iraqis have disappeared since 1980, but it didn't stop with the installation of the new constitution.

A recent Amnesty International report said “an estimated 30,000 untried detainees are currently being held by the Iraqi authorities, although the exact number is not known as the authorities do not disclose such information.” In addition, there are detainees held at secret facilities, at which torture is common, it said.

A further 23,000 previously held without charge or trial by US forces are currently being transferred to the Iraqi authorities or released, though Amnesty International believes “[a state cannot] claim to be treating detainees humanely while knowingly handing them over to torturers, any more than it can knowingly `release’ detainees in a minefield and claim that their safety is no longer its responsibility.”

Afghanistan Update

Nine civilians on the way to a wedding are killed by a bomb attack in Baghlan. A child is among the dead.

In a similar incident in Helmand, 6 civilians in a minibus are killed.

Afghanistan's fuel shortage deepens as Iran continues to restrict the transit of tanker trucks. Afghan Commerce Minister Anwarul Haq Ahadi discusses the crisis with reporters, and bemoans the failure of negotiations with Iran. The Iranians say they believe some of the fuel is going to NATO forces, but NATO obtains its fuel separately. The impact has fallen on the Afghan economy. Iran's true motives for this action are a matter for speculation. -- C

Quote of the Day

Obviously it's not possible to know what King, if he were alive, would think of any piece of U.S. foreign policy. But his political philosophy, as outlined in his landmark 1967 speech against the Vietnam War, strongly suggests that he would be an opponent of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, for that matter, the secret wars in Yemen and Pakistan.

Remember, this is the speech in which King assailed the U.S. government as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." He targeted the "the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism." He opposed the U.S. for dropping "thousands of bombs on a poor, weak nation more than 8000 miles from its shores." And:

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Justin Elliott


dancewater said...

Iran's true motives seem plain to me.

The US has inspired the world to put harsh sanctions on Iran, including limiting the amount of gasoline they can import. Iran does not have a lot of capacity to refine it's own oil into fuel.

So, Iran is not exporting any more gas to Afghanistan because they need the gas in Iran.

Any reasonable country would do the same.

dancewater said...

At the DOD site where they make their ridiculous claims about MLK, it says "no comments" at the bottom.

But I submitted a comment last night. Here is what I said:

It is totally ridiculous to think that Martin Luther King Jr. would approve of the insane wars being run today by the US military.

Furthermore, the idea that the wars (and bombings) that the US military is doing is keeping Americans SAFE is just nonsense. All it is doing is making more enemies for the US military to fight.

This is a load of bullshit.


I predict that the US Department of Defense is too chicken-shit scared to actually print my comment or engage in debate.

dancewater said...

several Iraqi cities had large demonstrations last week against Biden's visit to Iraq.

Here is a picture and story about one of them:

Cervantes said...

Well D, Iran isn't using the fuel - it's just stopping the trucks at the border. Iran lacks refining capacity, so the fuel comes from other ME countries and is just transiting Iran. These aren't actually Iranian exports.